10 Steps to Express Yourself Better in Writing

by Guest Blogger | 18 comments

This guest post is by Jessica Millis. Jessica is an experienced writer, editor and copywriter. She teaches writing at James Madison University works as a writing specialist at the EssayMama blog. Thanks for joining us today Jessica!

Good writers are able to fully express themselves with words.

But with so much flowing through the chambers of your mind, it is not easy to concisely find just the right words to express yourself, your idea, and your emotions. What phrases convey exactly what you're thinking? How do you express yourself while keeping your reader following a logical description, dialogue or argument?

How to express yourself in your writing


1. Plan

Even the briefest of outlines can help organize a thought process. Construction of a paragraph is worth studying.

When you're writing an essay, for example, your topic sentence needs to lead a reader into a place, followed with supporting details or explanations.

Once it is done, move on. Going into too much depth or unnecessary detail will lose a reader, or bore them, or sound redundant.

2. Write like you talk

Some writers feel the best way to get their ideas on paper is to start with an oral representation.

You might try to dictate or narrate into a recording device or software program like Dragon to hear what you are saying and then proceed to write or have the software do it for you.

What you produce will still require your editing and proofreading, but it will help you find a language tone that is suitable for your audience.

3. Mind your tone

Your words express who you are, your character and personality. Never has this been more true than today when so much of our communication happens through writing, whether you're texting, posting on Facebook, or writing an essay or a blog post.

Not only does your written work have to be pin-perfect in spelling and grammar, but it has to say something and leave the reader with an impression.

Ever had an email that you felt was yelling at you? Why was that? Could it have been the bold underlining and the excessive use of exclamation marks? Sometimes, additions like this are useful, and create a sense of urgency, but likewise, not using the right tone can leave your message flat and unimpressive.

Find a tone that works for the message or information you are trying to convey and test it out orally, or in print on someone objective, before publishing

4. Use Imagery

Whether you picture a place, a person or an object, your ability to describe it clearly has to transpire to your reader. Use a physical approach: describe a person top to bottom, an event in chronological order, and an object in a tactile or sensory way.

If you think your words will leave the reader with the same picture in their mind that you had in yours to begin with, you have succeeded!

5. Write Dialogue

When you write dialogue dialogue, use simple language, and keep your sentences concise, but with a peppering of emotion.

6. Share inner thoughts and voices

Sometimes the best way to express yourself is through feelings rather than concrete ideas. Novelists have an ability to take what a character is thinking and use it to further develop them and their actions.

7. Answer questions

If you can put yourself in the position of the reader, perhaps you will find that what you're writing poses certain questions. Explaining and describing the necessary information will engage your reader. However, take care to not extend beyond the concise and relevant details.

8. Change Perspectives

Often your thoughts can be developed with better with a change in perspective. Say you’re writing about… home organization. Don’t just think of yourself as the harried housewife with too much clutter, but perhaps the busy executive who walks in the door and adds to the mess every day.

Or… if you are writing about losing weight through a gluten free diet, perhaps you could consider that packaged and ready foods are marketed poorly for people with this need. Step inside the viewpoint of another to express thoughts you perhaps hadn’t explored.

9. Practice

Perhaps in high school, you might recall studying précis writing in your English classes. There is a skill to being able to take a lengthy text and rewriting it down to a concise shorter piece.

To get really good at writing with brevity, use articles from a newspaper, or content from websites to practice the art of taking lengthy pieces and finding more concise language to still convey the same message.

Use synonyms. Take out overly technical language. Use stronger words that have better meanings than lengthy phrases or descriptions. Combine thoughts into one sentence. Learn how to use the semi-colon.

10. Edit, edit … and edit again

This is nothing new. Writers review what they have written all the time. Some walk away from their work and return to it after a time lapse, to look at it with somewhat of a fresh approach. Others hand it over to a second party which can give an objective review. Regardless of the method, rarely is something publishable shortly after it is written. Writing is a craft, and craftsmanship takes time and precision to develop.

Expressing yourself in the written form is not easy. Even the greatest writers past and present have their frustrations. Learning to understand that writing is a process, always changing and moving, a living thing is some ways, is to understand that it is the form of communication that represents us when we are not there to be ourselves. Find the right words until less is more becomes your mantra.

How about you? How do you express yourself in writing? Share in the comments section.


Find a piece you wrote months ago. Don’t worry what it was for, but choose one with some length to it. Use the various techniques above to review the piece again.

  • Try reading it aloud. Does it “talk” the way people do?
  • Assess its tone. Is it too harsh, or not persuasive enough?
  • Close your eyes. Can you visualize the details in the way you need them to become visualized?
  • Are the thoughts deep enough? Little voices in the head are worth putting into your words.
  • Try cutting it down by a third. This will help you learn what is really key and essential.
  • Finally… answer questions. Think of all the questions the reader could have at the end of the piece, and ensure each one leads to a degree of satisfaction.

When you're finished, share a bit about your experience in the comments section. How'd it go?

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  1. Len Heggarty

    I am not inspired. I don’t want to write like I speak. Creative people are all different so there is no regimentation of how people write. Some need a plan and some don’t. Yes, writing has to say something and where do we find that. Pick up 1000 books and none of them say anything. The reason to write is to make money and not tell a story. So there is no story in most books. More people are writing more than ever, writing nothing.

    • Helaine Grenova

      Len, I am so so so sorry that you don;t think people write anything any more. I am sorry that you think that the only purpose to writing is to make money. I have read so many books that touched my soul, made me think, or make me take a stance on something. How do you have the ability to write if you have no passion for it?

    • Dawn Atkin

      I get the feeling you could write confrontational creative non-fiction with a fierce antagonistic tone.
      Mix it up with some outrage and disappointment, drop in a few drop-kick pollies and whisk on high speed with a splash of anti-mainstream journalism. Bake until the knife comes out clean, leave to cool then dribble some vanilla ‘letters to the editor’ icing on top. And you will have a decidedly delicious and vicious best seller. At least you’ll be writing about something! 🙂

      And that creative tiger of yours will find its voice and have some sweet dessert and a full belly.

      Food for thought perhaps? 😉


  2. Beth Schmelzer

    Jessica ‘s tips are some of the best advice I have seen on this or any writing site or blog. My pet peeve is how “writers ” in the comments section write as if they are texting friends. Sometimes the grammar and especially the punctuation is not professional. My feeling is that you should write your best whenever you post or comment. What do others believe about comments on blogs and writing sites? Thank you Jessica for the opportunity to “express” myself. @ http://www.BESTBOOKSBYBETH.COM

    • Helaine Grenova

      I try to comment using grammar and sentence structure. I type exactly what flows from my head into my fingers. I get that everyone is not the best typist. I am an awful speller. I am lucky if I get everything spelled right by the time I hit post.

    • Beth Schmelzer

      I agree, Helaine, and sometimes my Kindle provides autospelling and I cannot get it to stop providing words I did not wish to type. Patience is needed when we write and revise. Best wishes in your writing for pleasure or profit.

    • Jessica Millis

      Thank you! 😉

  3. Dawn Atkin

    I took the first chapter of a new novella I have started on.
    Reading it out loud I was able to clear some fog, add more details about the protagonist’s external environment and develop the connection between the stormy weather and her inner turmoil.

    I believe there will be a curiousity to know more about this character by the end of the chapter which will unfold through the story. However I was inclined to add some tell tale details to appease some possible questions for example: the state of her hair, the style and condition of her clothes, the music playing on the radio, the pile of dishes in the sink, the crumbs clinging to her feet from unswept floors etc.

    By returning to this piece of writing with posted suggestions I managed to peel back the telling and glide in to the showing of the story with some ease.

    Thanks for this as I probably wouldn’t have got back to this piece of writing for several months.

    Regard Dawn

  4. Peesapati

    These are very good tips. However (1) in imagery, you can examine to add (insert) pictures to create mood, (2) add points how to retain reader’s attention. Thanks

  5. Nora Gail Truax

    I write the way I tell the story, so was pleased to see those two steps listed. I also read my stories aloud. Good article.

    • Jessica Millis

      Me too!) Thank you!

  6. Young_Cougar

    This article was a nice reminder and I really related to number 1. I did great at school essays and I think it was because i planned it out. I’m going to try to take this perspective into my writing and see how it goes! Thanks alot!

    I swiped my forehead at the precipitation gathering there. Good, no wind. Less chances of the ball flaying far.

    Piper examined our filed formation before calling to the kicker. “Jake, are you ready?”

    Jake yelled affirmative and took a running stance. Everyone followed.

    Crouching, my feet muscles flexed, my eyes locked on to the ball.

    Ka-bunk! The ball rose above the tree line. My heart thumped and dipped along with the ball.

    “Catch it!!” I yelled. Holding my position as blood coursed through me, inducing me to run for it. To catch it. You can’t do everything, I thought reluctantly. You have to trust your friends!

    The ball gave a thump as it landed in Alex’s arms.
    “YES!!” I jumped with my fist in the air. “Way to go, Alex!! WOHOO!!”

    – This is a whole 22 words less from the first version. Makes me proud.

  7. Kimberly Lou

    I struggle In writing my thoughts in exams. I do well in assignments and essays when I have time, however when it comes to exams I bottom out….

    Even if I know my information from top to bottom and see the images in my head, when time is a factor, words escape me. It is so bad that I go from getting High Distinctions in my assignments to barely passing my exams, I need help but have no idea who or where to turn to.

    any ideas?

    kind regards,o


    • Michelle Machin

      Kim, writing for exams doesn’t have to be scary. First, read the prompt (more than once) and make sure that you understand exactly what they want. Then, complete a graphic organizer–organization is a huge factor in exam grades and a web, t-chart, or outline will help you organize your essay. Don’t forget your development–examples or quotes from the text (depending on the prompt) and how the example/text supports your thesis. Practice writing this way–we call it a “0-draft” (or original draft) and know that it will not be perfect. Good luck!

    • Alvee

      Good… first what u need to do is think precise…..if u cant able to express urself properly then u should memorize some words or phrases in order to achieve good grades

  8. Kathryn Q.

    Thank you so much for sharing these 10 steps! I am sure they will help me to improve my writing skills. By the way, you should check out this free plagiarism checker. This tool is great for writers and bloggers.

  9. Charles Eads

    Thank you so much for sharing these amazing writing tips! I am so happy I’ve found them here! They will help me to become a better writer. check for plagiarism

  10. Steve

    I’m getting out of preparation swamp and its tough but my hip waders are keeping me dry with all the muck as i’m watching out for the gators and snakes.



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